KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Report Notes Rise In Obesity Slowing, But Still Huge Health, Cost Problem

Bloomberg: More Than 40% Of U.S. May Be Obese By 2030, Study Says
The obesity rate may rise to 42 percent from about a third of the U.S. population by 2030 if nothing changes, according to a report. Preventing that increase may save about $550 billion in medical costs over the next 20 years, Eric Finkelstein, the study author and an associate research professor at Duke University, said during a press briefing (Lopatto, 5/7).

The Fiscal Times: The Obesity Epidemic: Another $550B in Costs by 2030
Let's start with the good news, because, frankly, there isn't all that much of it: The rate of increasing obesity in America has apparently flattened out some in recent years. After more than doubling from the late 1970s to 2008, the rate of expansion in America's waistlines has been shrinking, at least among some groups (Rosenberg, 5/7). 

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Even Small Reductions In Obesity Would Generate Major Savings, Report Finds 
Proven interventions are now available. “We know more than ever about the most successful strategies that will help Americans live healthier, more active lives and reduce obesity rates and medical costs,” said Dr. William H. Dietz, director of the CDC’s division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity, in a prepared statement (Graham, 5/7). 

National Journal: Could America's Fat Curve Be Flattening Out?
People who are obese – more than 20 percent above their ideal weight – have higher rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, back pain, and other chronic, expensive conditions. “The cost of obesity is $150 billion a year or almost 10 percent of the annual health care budget,” Dietz said. Besides the 34 percent of Americans who are obese, an additional one-third are overweight (Fox, 5/7).

CQ HealthBeat: Sebelius: Obesity Threat Warrants Sustained Prevention Efforts
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday called for maintaining momentum on multiple fronts to address the problem. "We've seen over and over again — whether it's TB or HIV/AIDS or tobacco — there's no such thing as inevitable progress," Sebelius said at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Weight of the Nation conference in Washington. "The second that our focus shifts or our resources move elsewhere, the threat can return and our health will suffer once again" (Bristol, 5/7).

McClatchy: Study: Soaring Obesity Rate Will Slow Over Next Two Decades But Remain High
Previous projections based on historical trends in obesity had suggested that more than half the nation - perhaps even 70 percent - could be obese by 2030, said Eric Finkelstein. ... He and his fellow researchers, though, tried to sharpen the picture by considering an array of variables that have shown correlation with obesity, such as trends in unemployment, the price of fast food and even access to the Internet (Price, 5/7).

MedPage Today: New Model Sees Smaller Uptick in Obesity Rates
The uptick in severe obesity, defined as a BMI of ≥40, would be even greater, rising to 11% by 2030, an increase of about 130%, they reported. Their figure is actually higher than the 9% predicted for 2030 by earlier estimates, they noted (Fiore, 5/7).

CBS: Obesity To Affect 42% Of Americans By 2030 With $550 Billion In Costs, Say Researchers
The "Weight of the Nation" meeting is part of a nationwide awareness campaign that involves experts from numerous organizations discussing strategies for the prevention and control of obesity. Partners in the campaign include the CDC, National Institutes of Health, and Institute of Medicine, and HBO - which will air a four-part documentary series by the same title starting May 14 (Jaslow, 5/7).

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